Want to Start Your Own Side Business? Find Out If Affiliate Marketing is a Good Fit

According to CNBC, American entrepreneurship increased by 60% between 2010 and 2012. While that’s a huge jump, given the massive fallout of 2008’s economic meltdown, it’s not all that surprising. Arguably, the most commonly overlooked but actually most interesting aspect of this information is not everyone who’s starting a new business is doing so because they lost or quit their job. Instead, a substantial number of fresh entrepreneurs are using a side business to get their feet wet for the first time.

Although starting a small side business may not sound as exciting as the type of thrive or die entrepreneurship that’s often encouraged in Silicon Valley, this approach is actually more sensible for a lot of people. By starting small, new entrepreneurs are able to minimize their downside. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a substantial upside. On the contrary, the worst case scenario is they lose a small monetary investment and time that would have otherwise been spent on something like a hobby.

A good outcome is the business grows and continues to generate additional income for the entrepreneur on a monthly basis. And a great outcome is if the business does so well that the person who started it realizes that they’ve reached a point where it makes sense to shift their full-time attention to that job. Additionally, starting a business on the side means that someone can try out an idea without deciding whether or not to quit their existing job. That makes it possible to explore ideas that would have otherwise been scrapped.

What Exactly is Affiliate Marketing?

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Affiliate marketing is a practice that involves publishers, advertisers and consumers. Affiliates are publishers who promote businesses to their audiences. Because affiliate marketing takes place online, when an affiliate drives a sale, the advertiser they’re promoting pays them a commission. Since advertisers’ annual spending on affiliate marketing is nearing $4 billion, there are all kinds of commission structures. There are also multiple ways advertisers can connect with affiliates. Some businesses run their own affiliate programs, while others enlist the help of an affiliate network.

Why is Affiliate Marketing a Good Fit for Starting a Side Business?

As you probably realized from the previous section, because affiliate marketing is a fairly wide field, there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of finding the type of program that works best for you. Another reason affiliate marketing is a great fit for starting a side business is because it requires very little capital to get started. Affiliate marketing is also quite appealing thanks to the fact that if you ever encounter an issue with a specific program, switching to a competing program is quite easy to do and will ensure you don’t incur major revenue losses. Finally, since affiliate marketing is still a fairly new field, there’s lots of room to innovate and open up new avenues.

How Can You Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?

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If you like everything we’ve covered about affiliate marketing so far and want to give it a shot for yourself, all you need to get started is your own website. Although building a website may sound like an expensive and time-consuming process, that’s actually not the case. For less than $25 and a few hours of time, you can register a domain name, sign up for a hosting account from a provider like HostGator or BlueHost, and then install WordPress.

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll be able to build and customize your site. What’s great about this approach is because WordPress is a very popular platform, a quick search of YouTube should provide all the tutorials you need to get your site up and running. And after your site is live, you won’t have to wait around to monetize it. Instead, as long as you’ve been accepted into at least one affiliate program or network, you can use Build Your Widget to create a WordPress widget that showcases the products you want to promote. Not only will you have full control over exactly which products you want to showcase on your site, but Build Your Widget will also make it easy for you to change the appearance of your showcase whenever you want.

Still reading? Then give yourself a pat on the back! The reason you deserve a little self congratulations is because you now know the basics of exactly how to give affiliate marketing a test run and see if it fits the style of side business you’ve been imagining for yourself.

Jay Bats designed and created Build Your Widget throughout 2012 and 2013. Build Your Widget lets you build really cool widgets for use in ecommerce and affiliate marketing on your website. Feel free to follow Jay on Google+ to learn more.